Jeremiah 15


‘Then the LORD said to me: ‘Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!’ Jeremiah 15:1

From verse 1 it would seem that Moses and Samuel had tried to intercede for the people. Could this have happened? The NIV says, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel.’

It could mean that God was saying that ‘even if’ they were so great, not even these two great men could influence Him in changing His mind. Exodus 32:11-16, Moses and 1 Samuel 7:9 / 1 Samuel 7:12 / 1 Samuel 7:23, Samuel.

‘And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity.’ ‘I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,’ declares the LORD, ‘the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds and the wild animals to devour and destroy. I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem. ‘Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem? Who will mourn for you? Who will stop to ask how you are? You have rejected me,’ declares the LORD. ‘You keep on backsliding. So, I will reach out and destroy you; I am tired of holding back. I will winnow them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people, for they have not changed their ways. I will make their widows more numerous than the sand of the sea. At midday I will bring a destroyer against the mothers of their young men; suddenly I will bring down on them anguish and terror. The mother of seven will grow faint and breathe her last. Her sun will set while it is still day; she will be disgraced and humiliated. I will put the survivors to the sword before their enemies,’ declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 15:2-9

Punishment is promised here, again. It talks about Manasseh in verse 4. It was his evil influence that set a pattern that was never to be changed, 1 Kings 21:1-12. But there is an important issue here. It might seem from this verse that the invasion and captivity of Judah was due to him, and his wicked reign. But it wasn’t just because of his reign that God’s people would face all of these disasters.

It was because the people wanted to continue in their wickedness. They didn’t like the reforms of the good king, Josiah. So, as soon as Jehoiakim became king, they heartily agreed to support the restoration of all of the idols that were rampant during Manasseh’s evil reign.

And when Jeremiah’s great prophecies questioned their continuance of idolatry, they considered it was time to kill Jeremiah off. It was because the majority of the people seem to prefer worshipping idols rather than the Lord God In heaven that they ultimately faced this destruction.

‘Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth, a man with whom the whole land strives and contends! I have neither lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me. The LORD said, ‘Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose; surely I will make your enemies plead with you in times of disaster and times of distress. ‘Can a man break iron—iron from the north—or bronze? ‘Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without charge, because of all your sins throughout your country. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for my anger will kindle a fire that will burn against you.’ Jeremiah 15:10-14

It seems as though Jeremiah was speaking here about himself. We say this because it is confusing. Jeremiah had been working for God. In the KJV it seems that there is hope for the people. But the RSV seems to suggest the opposite. If Jeremiah is speaking personally about himself, then the KJV gives a message of hope. The Hebrew for these verses is obscure.

Certainly, we can see a glimpse of human nature here. One of the sure ways of making bitter enemies is either to borrow or lend money from them. Jeremiah seems to be saying that, because he didn’t do this, he was hated by most people, it was one of the grounds for the people not understanding him.

These verses are considered to be the second personal lament of Jeremiah. Some scholars say that Jeremiah here is saying, again, that he curses the day that he was born. This seems to be taking his words too far. However, Jeremiah’s error, whatever it was, seems to be serious enough for God to tell him to repent in Jeremiah 15:19.

‘LORD, you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake. When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. I never sat in the company of revellers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.’ Jeremiah 15:15-18

The prophet is pleading for himself, and the promise that he receives for his protection. Remember, Lord, I have spoken your word, I have not rebelled. It is for you, Lord that I have suffered. I have not sat with the mockers or the scoffers.

Psalm 1:1 tells us, ‘Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of mockers.’

Now that I know a lot of things that you know. Lord, I feel the same way. I feel indignant toward the people. But he wants to know why he is suffering the way that he is, verse 18, ‘Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that falls?’

Jeremiah has fallen into a distressing pit of self-pity. He has become a victim of the ‘me’ virus. In the four verses from verses 15-18, he uses ‘me’, ‘my’ or ‘I’ sixteen times! It appears that he is completely discouraged by the fact that his mission is a failure.

‘Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.’ Jeremiah 15:19-21

This is a statement of God’s protection. Verse 19 seems very funny. ‘If you repent’, Jeremiah, ‘I will restore you.’ It seems strange that God should say this to Jeremiah. Jeremiah hadn’t parted from the Lord, so, why did he have to return? What have we missed, or misunderstood, about his mission for God?

Certainly, we know that he doubted his mission was a success. He doubted God’s protection as early as Jeremiah 1. Perhaps the prophet hadn’t learnt that he had to put his full trust in God.

Certainly, we can see from these verses that God made it quite clear that he disapproved of Jeremiah’s conduct. To get back to God he was told to do two things.

1. You must repent, and

2. You must utter worthy words, not unworthy ones.

And if he does these things four things will result.

1. He will again be God’s true messenger to the people.

2. He will not listen to the wishes of the people, but he will cause the people to turn to God’s word.

3. He will become a fortified wall of bronze, just as God had promised when He first called him. And

4. God will save him from the hands of the wicked.

‘If you repent I will restore you.’ Certainly, this is God commanding Jeremiah to repent. It seems that Jeremiah had allowed himself to adopt an attitude of criticism toward God, and perhaps this criticism had appeared in some of his messages to the people. God was therefore reminding him to separate the good from the bad.

This message is as important to us today, as it was then, especially to those who preach or teach God’s word. If we allow human philosophy, or our human views, to be preached alongside the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we have included the bad with the good.

Go To Jeremiah 16